July 21, 2017 11:03 am
Updated: July 24, 2017 4:28 pm

Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs, wife charged with extortion

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs and his wife were charged with extortion on July 21, 2017.

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Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs and his wife have been charged with extortion and obstructing justice in the same investigation that led to the arrest of the city’s police chief less than two months ago, according to the Ontario Provincial Police.

The OPP said in a release Friday the mayor, 65, his wife Marisa Hobbs, 53, and a third woman identified as 46-year-old Mary Voss had been arrested following an investigation into “allegations of criminal wrongdoing” that also include a municipal official and local resident.

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“The charges are unrelated to municipal business or issues,” acting mayor Trevor Giertuga said during a press conference Friday morning.

“The mayor has advised he would be absent from his public duties in accordance to city policies as he deals with this personal matter.”

Giertuga said Thunder Bay city council had received legal advice on the investigation during a closed session Thursday night.

“As the mayor works through this personal issue, this personal matter, city council will commit to our citizens and our community to work together to cover the duties and responsibilities of the mayor,” he said.

The three each face a charge of extortion and are set to appear in court in Thunder Bay on Sept. 26.

“The mayor is duly elected by the citizens of Thunder Bay and under the Municipal Act there is no mechanism for removals, suspension, any of those measures,” city spokeswoman Karen Lewis said Friday.

“So the mayor remains the mayor, [but] he’s absent from his public duties.”

Hobbs will remain on paid leave for a yet undetermined amount of time. Under the Municipal Act, any city council member can ask for a leave of up to three months, at which point it would be up to council to either extend the leave or declare the seat vacant.

The OPP said it would not comment further in order to “protect the integrity of the investigation” and the ongoing court proceedings.

The arrests come months after Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque, 53, was charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice following a five-month investigation into alleged criminal wrongdoing.

OPP spokeswoman Carolle Dionne said the charges stem from that same investigation, launched in January 2017, that implicated the police chief and led to the charges being laid on May 24.

“It’s forms part of the same investigation,” Dionne said. “Hence as a result of the ongoing investigation further information and evidence was collected and as a result Keith Hobbs, Marisa Hobbs, as well as Mary Voss were additionally charged.”

Dionne would not comment on the relationship between the four people and declined to provide details on the specific incident that led to the charges because it would “jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.”

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